Deepwater Horizon Experts Available

BATON ROUGE – LSU is the only U.S. university that has a facility that can fully simulate an emergency blowout situation like what happened at the Deepwater Horizon. Since 2010, LSU has trained 465 petroleum engineering students in hands-on well control and safe drilling operations. The Petroleum Engineering Research & Technology Transfer Laboratory, or the PERTT Lab, is a full-scale well control training facility.

PERTT Lab Interim Director Wesley Williams in the LSU Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering is available for media interviews.

What are the key training areas the PERTT Lab specializes in?

WW: PERTT is a full-scale well facility on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, La. We do testing, training, teaching in well control operation, blowout prevention and managed pressure drilling. It is a facility that has been training safe drilling operations since 1980.

We can simulate how oil well accidents occur and how to prevent them.

What role does the PERTT Lab play with the energy industry?

WW: The PERTT Lab is a nexus for industry testing and training in well control. All the major operators including Shell, Chevron, Conocophillips and BP have performed projects and supported the facility. LSU is currently upgrading the facility to teach and train engineers about the next generation of safe drilling operations. 

Do LSU faculty work with the energy industry?

WW: We are currently doing research for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management studying worst case discharge from oil wells. Our work will help the government to better evaluate and regulate the environmental impacts of a Gulf of Mexico accidental oil release. We have a long history of research projects for offshore drilling operations.

LSU faculty were consulted after the Deepwater Horizon disaster about how to estimate the size of the incident and how to prevent similar incidents in the future for the government.

What makes the PERTT Lab facility unique?

WW: The PERTT Lab is the only facility that provides full-scale well control training with gas kicks, which is an emergency situation where natural gas prematurely enters the well from the reservoir during a drilling operation. As the gas rises to the surface, it increases the wellhead pressure. If this is not mitigated, the pressure can exceed the design pressure and cause a blowout, which is a rupture of the wellhead or casing pressure boundary. This blowout scenario is what happened during Deepwater Horizon.

LSU has a video uplink studio with live broadcast capabilities. Contact us to set up an interview with Dr. Williams.

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Contact Alison Satake, LSU Media Relations, 225-578-3870,